Paula Gilland doesn’t have to visit her son Taylor in California to get an acai bowl anymore. “We were out visiting him in San Francisco and I had one and it was delicious,” she recalls. “I said, ‘We’ve got to get this in Chapel Hill. I can’t believe we don’t have this [there].’” Led by Taylor, the family opened The Purple Bowl in July and now Paula can get her fix on West Franklin Street, just a few miles from home.
For those unacquainted with acai bowls, think of it as a smoothie you eat with a spoon. Made from a base of unsweetened acai, strawberries, bananas and hemp milk, the bowls are topped with fruit, bee pollen and chia seeds, making them a treat for the eyes too. Customers can customize their bowls or order offerings like avocado toast, Japanese-style iced coffee and fresh coconut.
Taylor, who holds a double major in commerce and economics from UVA, will serve as the main owner from California but thankfully has plenty of reinforcements in Chapel Hill. “It’s actually been a whole family adventure,” Paula says. “It’s just been kind of a fun side project where we’ve all pitched in and worked on it together.” Daughter Laura is in PA School at Duke, husband Wendell is a professor at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and son Kevin just followed his brother cross-country to start at Berkeley.
In their first few weeks of service, Taylor says the reception has been welcoming. “[It’s] really cool to see all the different people from the Chapel Hill community coming in and giving it a try. We have UNC athletes, Carrboro people, old people, country people, high school kids and families all coming in,” Taylor says. “[I] hope it can be a melting pot of our unique community where students and townspeople meet.”